Posts Tagged: ken segall

Jul 12

Google echoes Apple’s little lapse

Uh… so is it “play” or “Play”?

For the most part, Apple’s product naming is extremely logical. Computers are Macs and consumer products are i-devices.

Customers know the language and the brand is reinforced at every turn.

But you don’t have to dig too deep before things the logic shows a few cracks. The Consistency Police, even under Steve Jobs, seemed to flip-flop when it came to the second word in a product name. Sometimes it’s uppercase, sometimes it’s lowercase.

We have Mac Pro and Mac mini. MacBook Air and iPod nano. There’s a Cinema Display and Thunderbolt Display — and now there’s a Retina display. What exactly is the rule again? Continue reading →

Jun 12

A moment of sanity in the Applesphere

Being under the microscope is a double-edged sword for Apple.

On one hand, the company gets hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of free publicity from the world’s journalists and bloggers. On the other, it gets picked apart for every transgression, real or imagined.

There are legions of critics and naysayers just waiting to pounce. We hear from them whenever Apple’s quarterly report shows a “weakness,” some supplier in Asia is rumored to be making fewer iPad components, or an Apple event fails to meet expectations — no matter how unrealistic those expectations might have been.

It’s for that last reason that I was somewhat amazed by the reactions to Apple’s WWDC 2012 presentation on Monday. Continue reading →

Jun 12

The great BlackBerry marketing mess

Excuse my extended hiatus. My journey to Japan and the UK was all-consuming (and tremendously fun). More about that over at my Insanely Simple Facebook page if you wish. Otherwise, it’s back to business here…

RIM's teaser on its UK and Australia sites

It probably wasn’t the plan, but RIM may soon enter the record books for Most Self-Inflicted Wounds By A Market Leader.

After being spanked by iPhone and Android over a period of four years, RIM is fighting back with a marketing campaign. And wow, it’s a doozie.

It started back in April when RIM dispatched its anonymous flash mob to the Apple Store in Sydney, Australia, creating a fake protest with signs reading “WAKE UP.” (See that here.) Continue reading →

May 12

An insanely good week

In theory, I’ll stop blabbing about my book Insanely Simple sometime soon. But hey, I’m a first-time author. Let me have just a few days to be giddy. This thing has been so much fun, I thought I’d share the adventure.

As you are no doubt aware, the Apple crowd picks up on things quickly. The buzz was so good, my book hit #75 on Amazon on the first day. I’m truly thankful to all who were interested enough to actually hit the Buy button.

Launch day started with an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box. Only problem was that I had to be at the CNBC studios in NJ at 6:00 am — which meant being up at 4:00. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen that hour in 20 years. There’s no prep at all for these things. You show up, they plunk you down in a chair and start counting down from five. Suddenly you’re on live TV. But the way this show works — with three talkative hosts — I quickly felt at ease. It felt kind of like sitting in a living room talking with friends. See this segment here. (But to get the full effect, set your alarm for 6:00 am and then watch it.) Continue reading →

Apr 12

Noah Wyle and Steve Jobs’ moment of truth

Writing my book Insanely Simple (coming April 26th) stirred up quite a few memories for me — not all of which fit the theme of the book. So I’m sharing some of those here. (They show up a little earlier over at my Facebook page — just click on “Insanely Secret.” In fact a new one is going up today…)

It’s getting to be ancient history now, but some of you may remember the 1999 TBS production called Pirates of Silicon Valley. The movie was about the early days of Apple and Microsoft, and the evolution of the relationship between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Excellent subject matter, but clearly “made for TV” quality.

When the project got the green light, Steve was clearly excited. He shared the news with us at one of our regular agency meetings. He was especially thrilled that the role of himself was going to be played by Noah Wyle. At the time, Noah was flying high as part of the cast of the hit show ER. Continue reading →

Mar 12

Apple’s momentary lapse of reason

As we all know (and Wall Street knows), Apple is a well-oiled machine these days. Unfortunately, there seems to be a screw loose down in the shipping dept.

This is the story of my friend Sam in Tucson, who was anxiously awaiting the scheduled March 16th delivery of his gorgeous new personalized iPad.

On March 14th, just two days before his delivery date, Sam received the above email from Apple. Even after he read it a few times, he was scratching his head.

For starters, it was riddled with typos. Not one or two, but six. Given Apple’s perfectionist standards, surely someone’s head would roll as a result. (Just three hours later, Sam received another email owning up to the errors. Continue reading →

Mar 12

Putting the wrong spin on “1984”

When I saw the headline on the Ad Age article, I stopped in my tracks:

 Apple First Marketing Guru On Why ‘1984’ Is Overrated

Yikes. Blasphemy!

Even worse, that “overrated” word is attributed to the great Regis McKenna, longtime friend/advisor to Steve Jobs and Apple’s original advertising/PR man.

What a story — except for the fact that it isn’t true.

The editor of this story either misses Regis’s point or is just out to snare some cheap clicks.

Regis never once says that 1984 is overrated. He says that the attention created by some ads can be a problem because it raises expectations. Apple went into decline in the years after 1984. Continue reading →

Mar 12

Santorum copies Apple’s ad success — and failure

Wow — an opportunity to bring politics into a technology-oriented blog. How does one resist?

Rick Santorum has released a new video that is an obvious homage to Apple’s 1984 commercial.

Problem #1: At this point in time, only a tiny percentage of the voters have any knowledge of 1984. So in effect, it’s less of an homage and more of a rip-off.

Problem #2: It’s actually a cross between Apple’s famous 1984 commercial and its infamous clunker, Lemmings. Continue reading →

Feb 12

Ron Johnson’s night at the Oscars

Last night, jcpenney was hard to miss on the Oscars — with not one, but five commercials.

I swear I’m not turning this blog into a retail site.

But if you’re an Apple-watcher, it’s interesting to see how Ron Johnson is leveraging a core Apple value to power his vision at JCP.

It’s all about the customer experience.

The reason Ron has a good chance of succeeding is that he isn’t merely parroting Steve Jobs’s mantra. Steve brought Ron into Apple because the love of retailing was already in his blood. Continue reading →

Feb 12

And now, a different kind of Apple book

True confession time:

I’ve written a book.

Something tells me you won’t be surprised when I tell you it’s about Steve Jobs and Apple. But this book is different. Really.

That’s because (a) I had a unique vantage point to some pivotal events in Apple history, and (b) this book focuses on one thing alone — the core value that has driven Apple since the beginning.

Insanely Simple is about Apple’s obsession with Simplicity.

You can see Simplicity in everything Apple does: the way it organizes, innovates and communicates. In fact, one could argue that it was Steve’s unrelenting passion for Simplicity that helped Apple rise from near-death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011.

My observations come from over 12 years of experience as Steve’s agency creative director, from NeXT to Apple. Also relevant to my story are the years I spent on the agency team during John Sculley’s rule at Apple. And then I had some interesting (and often excruciating) experiences in the worlds of Dell, Intel and IBM — which made me even more conscious of what sets Apple apart.

To Steve Jobs, Simplicity was a religion. But it was also a weapon — one that he used to humble competitors once thought to be invincible.

Apple’s devotion to Simplicity is the one constant that can be traced from the first Apple II computer all the way to today’s iPad. Though the company’s success is built upon engineering and design skills, it’s the love of Simplicity that truly powers Apple, revolution after revolution.

Technically, this is a business book. The idea is that in a complicated world, nothing stands out like Simplicity. If you better understand how Apple’s obsession has driven its success, you can adopt the same principles to boost your own organization — or your own career.

That said, Insanely Simple is a general interest book too. It’s a fun read for anyone who’d like to know what it was like to work in Steve’s world during the rebirth of Apple. It will give you a better understanding of what makes Apple Apple.

Crass salesmanship alert: I think you’ll like it. In my book, as I do in my blog, I use my personal experiences with Apple, NeXT and other companies to illustrate the power of Simplicity — and to warn of the evils of Complexity. Many of my stories have never been told publicly, so you’ll find more than a few surprises.

There’s a bit more about the book here.

Insanely Simple is available April 26th, but you gain extra appreciation points if you pre-order — which you can do at iBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and 800-CEO-read.

Last, I invite you to join my new mail list over there in the sidebar. I promise not to abuse the privilege, and I’d love to make you part of my secret club.

Thanks all!